Wichitra Yasya (middle) with UMJ students
Wichitra Yasya (middle) with UMJ students

At the Centre for Communication and Social Change we take pride in equipping our students with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue future career and/or academic opportunities.

This month, we are fortunate to meet and talk with Wichitra Yasya, a 2009 CSC graduate from Indonesia, who has embraced that opportunity.  

Wichitra Yasya is a PhD candidate in Communication for Rural and Agricultural Development, Faculty of Human Ecology, Bogor Agricultural University, and also a Lecturer in Communication Science at the Universitas Muhammadiyah Jakarta, Indonesia.  

Additionally, Wichitra  is  the founder, director, and programme manager at YRKK, a non-profit organisation that focuses on improving the quality of early childhood education through capacity building and improving access and linkages to early childhood educators and relevant stakeholders.

Wichitra told us that the curiosity and desire to create change through the sharing of knowledge motivated her to take up the academic career path.

“I am a curious person, and I also love to share knowledge to other people. Being a lecturer gives me the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity by giving the platform to do research, while being able to share what I know to the next generation".

Wichitra believed that working in academia also gives her the opportunity to make an impact on students and society.

“The opportunity to do meaningful research and community engagement that could actually  impact on community development, and also the teaching, where you see the students' eager faces, the students being successful, or they tell you that you have motivated them... those are the things that keep me going forward”.

While she enjoys working in the academic and CSC field, Wichitra finds it quite challenging to find a balance between her professional roles as a lecturer, PhD student, and executive director and programme manager at YRKK.

However, she explained that these challenges did not interfere with the motivation and excitement she brings to her job at the Universitas Muhammadiyah Jakarta and YRKK.

In fact, Wichitra believes that having the potential and capacity to do many things at once is a critical learning skill to succeed in her job and also for the benefit of society.

“Before I can only focus on one thing at a time, and I will feel overwhelmed if given too many things to do at once. Now I have many responsibilities and many people depend on my actions, so I learn to push my limits and achieve results in whatever role I am doing”, she said.

When asked about the achievements that she is proud of, Wichitra stated that it was obtaining a PhD Scholarship and founding YRKK.

“The first achievement is obtaining a LPDP scholarship to do my PhD and, second, founding YRKK.

“Being granted the LPDP scholarship to do a PhD marked a significant turning point of achieving my academic career ambition that I am proud of.

“The scholarship provided an opportunity to achieve my vision – that is, to study PhD and take up an academic position.

Further, although my vision was also to start a community empowerment organisation after completing the PhD, in reality I was fortunate to achieve it in the middle of doing my degree with the help from my family.

“My family and I built this organisation from scratch, but through hard work, we were able to receive a small grant from UNICEF in less than a year. We will receive it again for a second term for the multi-year grant.  I am proud we were given that opportunity”.

In responding to the question about social change challenges or issues in the Indonesia context, Wichitra responded by relating her personal experience to some of the social issues she engages with in her job.

“Since being a mother, I have become concerned with family issues such as health, education and parenting. My dissertation focuses on the use of social media for breastfeeding support. Breastfeeding is natural for humans and in Islam – the religion that I share with most Indonesians - it is even compulsory as mentioned in the Qur’an.

“In a developing country like Indonesia, breastfeeding can literally save lives and decrease maternal and infant mortality, but sadly the breastfeeding rate is still below WHO standard. Besides aggressive marketing by formula milk companies, the issue of breastfeeding is an issue of social support, which is now mediated by the new media.

“Early childhood education is also my focus at YRKK, since research has shown that children from low income families are less likely to benefit from early childhood education for various reasons.  We are trying to improve that by building relationships with parents, early childhood education teachers, village chiefs, sub district heads and other stakeholders”.

When asked about key CSC skills used in her job, Wichitra told us, “participatory communication is very useful in my work as Lecturer and also when I am doing community engagement.

“I have also used skills that I studied during my CSC degree at UQ in my NGO work such as writing up documents like social impact assessment, communication plan, and instruments for facilitation”.

In terms of the lessons learned from the broad practice of CSC, Wichitra explained to us, “I learned that CSC is a very practical field of discipline that can be used in any work setting, especially in the developing country contexts where development efforts basically require using communication for social change principles.

“The Communication program that I teach has three concentrations, Public Relations, Advertising, and Broadcasting. The students only get one course on CSC, but I always try to convey CSC principles through other courses such as PR Campaign, Social Marketing, etc.”

In her final remarks, Wichitra reinforced the important of studying CSC discipline at UQ. “I am very grateful for my experience studying CSC because everything you learn from doing your CSC degree can really take you anywhere doing anything you want”.

You can learn more about Wichitra Yasya's work here




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